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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Stem cells represent for some the promise of a cure from disease or relief from chronic pain conditions -- and businesses have taken notice, opening clinics that market different stem-cell treatments directly to consumers.

While the use of unapproved stem-cell therapies is commonly associated with international “stem cell tourism,” a new analysis in the journal Cell Stem Cell indicates that this marketplace may be much larger in the United States than previously thought.

By using internet key word searches, text mining, and content analysis of company websites, UC Davis stem cell researcher Paul Knoepfler and University of Minnesota bioethicist Leigh Turner found a total of 351 U.S. businesses offering stem-cell treatments in 570 clinics throughout the United States. Clinics were found throughout the country, with California, Florida and Texas having the highest number of clinics. Similar clusters were also seen in certain cites, most notably Beverly Hills, followed by New York and San Antonio.

The majority of clinics advertised autologous treatments, which means using stem cells that come directly from the patient, usually from fat cells or bone marrow. However, an estimated one in five clinics marketed treatments with stem cells derived from other people, and two clinics offered “bovine amniotic cells” to patients -- meaning cells derived from the amniotic fluid of cows.

The purported treatments offered by these clinics were varied, with the most common interventions advertised for orthopedic issues, followed by pain, sports injuries, neurologic conditions, and immune disorders. The authors note specific concern about the marketing of treatments for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, for which there is currently no consensus from the medical community that there are safe and effective stem cell treatments.

James Hendrix, director of Global Science Initiatives at the Alzheimer’s Association, shares these concerns.

Although there are clinical studies being conducted to assess the safety and efficacy of stem cells in the treatment of disease and injury, he stressed that it is important to “make the distinction between what is research, and what is ready to be sold and marketed and provided to patients.”

The treatments offered in these clinics “are unproven and not tested appropriately at this point," Hendrix added. "There’s no way to confirm that any of these clinics are providing stem cells, let alone whether they actually work.”

His points echo those made by Turner and Knoepfler, who note that some clinics may not be meeting federal regulations regarding cells and tissues.

"From around 2009 to the present, businesses have been entering the marketplace on a routine basis, they've been coming in making marketing assertions about stem cells treating 30-40 different diseases, and no one's taking meaningful regulatory action," Turner said in a statement.

"Does that mean that people are getting access to safe and efficacious interventions or is there basically unapproved human experimentation taking place where people are going to these businesses and receiving experimental investigational cell-based interventions without being given a meaningful account of the lack of knowledge and evidence that they're being charged for?" Turner added.

For now, it seems additional discussions into the ethical, legal and medical ramifications of these clinics are needed. Per Hendrix, stem cells and stem cell research “may lead to really great new understanding of disease as well as new therapies," he said. But "that is a step separate from what these clinics are doing today.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  When it comes to jobs that are detrimental to your health, experts often refer to the three Ds -- dirty, dangerous and dull.

But jobs in the three Fs -- fishing, forestry and farming -- had the highest suicide risk, according to a report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report examined suicide rates in different occupations in 2012.

Workers in the farming, fishing and forestry industries had a suicide rate of 84.5 per 100,000, while the lowest suicide rate was found in people working in education, with a rate of 7.5 per 100,000, the study found. That's more than a 10-fold difference in suicide risk. Of the 12,313 reported suicides, 77.2 percent were male while 22.8 percent were female.

While suicide can occur for a variety of reasons, the report found certain factors such as social isolation and access to lethal materials could contribute to suicide risk. The report is not conclusive when it comes to the reason behind the higher suicide rates seen in some professions.

“Previous research suggests that farmers’ chronic exposure to pesticides" may “contribute to depressive symptoms," according to the report.

Other occupational groups with high suicide rates include maintenance/repair, construction and management. The report cited reasons such as lack of steady employment and work overload as possible factors that could contribute to suicide risk. However, the occupational risks for suicide were slightly different for women, with those in protective services such as law enforcement and firefighting having the highest rates of suicide, the study found.

One limitation of the study was that the data was collected from 17 states, so it's unclear if these suicide rates would match up with national rates, the researchers noted. The 17 states were Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

John Draper, director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, explained that the people at risk are often in rural areas with reduced access to mental health services and are often working alone.

"Aloneness and disconnection is often associated with greater distress and a harder time coping," he told ABC News.

For those in rural areas, accessing help through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or the Crisis Textline can help people even if they are not in crisis, Draper said.

"About three out of four people who contact National Suicide Prevention Lifeline are not suicidal, they’re people in emotional distress," said Draper, who was not involved in this CDC study. "There’s a significant reduction not only in suicidality but in emotional distress," after people call a hotline.

The findings of the study could be used to help people at risk of suicide, according to the study authors, who noted that prevention activities directed toward specific groups can “enhance social support, community connectedness and access to preventive services." And workplace wellness programs can promote coping skills, the study authors noted.

The five occupation groups with the highest suicide rates per 100,000 workers

    Farming, fishing, forestry 84.5
    Construction and extraction 53.3
    Installation, maintenance and repair 47.9
    Production 34.5
    Architecture and engineering 32.2

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  When mom of two Christina Torino-Benton's 6-month-old daughter Gemma wouldn't stop fussing, she just did what she would normally do.

She breastfed her.

Never mind that Torino-Benton was in the middle of her wedding ceremony to childhood crush Danny Benton and no matter that she was as dressed up and glammed up as a bride could be.

 "It wasn't even a thought that crossed my mind to not feed her," Torino-Benton told ABC News. "It's always my reaction when she gets upset. It was the only thing to do. That's what she wanted. So I complied. I always do. It was so natural and instinctive. When I looked at Danny to let him know that's what was happening, it was more of a giggle between him and I, rather than a discussion. He is just as on board as I am when it comes to caring for our baby."

She posted to popular Facebook page Breastfeeding Mama Talk. From there, it took on a life of its own.

"I have shared a few breastfeeding bride photos in the past," the page's founder, Kristy Kemp, told ABC News, "but what made this one different is it was during the actual ceremony. I think it shows a mom willing to put her child ahead of her even on a day where it's generally supposed to be all about her."

 Because baby Gemma was crying, Torino-Benton said, "I was in no way able to concentrate on my wedding because I never ever let her cry. So I just turned to my mom and asked her to give her to me. I was able to discreetly pull down one side of my gown and feed her. And she fell asleep within five minutes."

No one reacted, she said.

"I'm pretty certain nobody even knew what was going on. It was only after the fact that they had asked me if I breastfed her during the ceremony. And when I answered yes, everyone said 'awesome!' Or something similar. Our family is very supportive, always."

And though most of the public has been supportive too, there have been critics.

"I had never felt judged or anything before now when it came to breastfeeding," Torino-Benton said. "I've heard of people coming down on breastfeeding women and I thought that was just so horrible, but now that I've experienced it first-hand, and widely, from people all around the world, I now truly know what an issue this is.

"I hope that my photo, along with the photos it has helped inspired to come forward, really changes the views some people may have. Or at least let the women who still feed in the bathroom stalls know that it's okay, you can come out. We're all just feeding our babies."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Cookie dough may be tempting to taste before it's been baked, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning people to resist that temptation due to concerns that the dough could be contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

Dozens of people have been sickened due to an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O121 linked to flour, prompting the FDA to issue a warning on Wednesday to avoid eating raw cookie dough or batter -- whether it’s for bread, cookies, pizza or tortillas.

The E. coli outbreak in at least 20 states, likely caused by flour, was reported earlier this month by the CDC and led General Mills to voluntarily recall 10 million pounds of flour.

The products were sold under the names Gold Medal, Signature Kitchen’s and Gold Medal Wondra. At least 38 people have been infected with E. coli in the flour-related outbreak, including 10 people who were hospitalized, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Flour produced at a General Mills facility in Kansas City, Missouri, is believed to be the source of the outbreak, CDC officials said earlier this month. General Mills said that the FDA has confirmed one sample from its recalled flour tested positive for E. coli O121.

“Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria,” Leslie Smoot, a senior adviser in the FDA’s Office of Food Safety and a specialist in the microbiological safety of processed foods, said in a statement.

E. coli can be killed through common cooking methods, including baking, boiling, roasting or frying. Symptoms of an E. coli infection include diarrhea, abdominal cramps and, in rare situations, kidney failure.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Are you considering a hysterectomy? The surgery is the second most common amongst women.

There is growing evidence that premenopausal removal of the ovaries is associated with worse long-term health outcomes. Yet, in a significant percentage of cases, ovaries were removed at the time of hysterectomy for no apparent reason.

Here's my GYN advice:

  • Ask your gynecologist for all the treatment options -- not just the ones he or she offers.
  • Ask about the surgical approach. A hysterectomy can be done via a large skin incision, laparoscopically or vaginally, and they all have different pros and cons.
  • Ask what will be removed and why. Hysterectomies include the cervix, ovaries and/or fallopian tubes.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Desiree Navarro/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Actress Stephanie March, best known for playing an assistant district attorney on Law & Order: SVU, has opened up about a dangerous reaction she experienced after undergoing breast augmentation.

March, 41, described the episode in a candid essay she wrote for Refinery29. The actress said she decided to have the surgery during a painful time in her life -- her split from her then-husband, chef Bobby Flay.

“The other thing that was happening was that my marriage of nearly 10 years (and 14 together) was falling apart. And nothing, nothing was helping me cope,” March wrote. “I decided to try one last thing. And what I did next was exactly what you are not supposed to do when it comes to plastic surgery. I decided to change my body because I couldn’t change my life.”

March wrote that just two months after the surgery she experienced complications and learned her right implant was infected and the seams of her scar on her right side had burst. Her surgeon removed the implant and sent her to an infectious disease doctor.

“I a hole in my breast for six weeks while I blasted my body with antibiotics. I had the implant put back in. I had another infection and rupture on Christmas Eve. I had it taken out again. I had more cultures and tests and conversations with doctors than I care to recall,” March wrote.

March said she came to the conclusion that her complication was not something anyone could have prevented but that, “I am allergic to implants. Plain and simple. My body did. Not. Want. Them. I kept trying to 'fix' my body, and it kept telling me to leave it alone.”

The actress, whose divorce from Flay was finalized in July 2015, ultimately had her implants removed.

“I have accepted this episode as a part of my larger story. And I refuse to be ashamed of it. I am taking back my body, my story, and myself in a bathing suit,” March wrote. “All that I had, all that I was, from the beginning, was all I needed to be. And now, I anticipate summer of 2016 with great joy.”

March told ABC News in a statement she is “overwhelmed” and “very moved” by the “positive reaction” to her article.

Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News Chief women's health correspondent, said Thursday on  ABC's Good Morning America that even common plastic surgery procedures like breast augmentation are "not without complications."

"You need to know about these possible complications and they do differ based on the type of implant used, the approach used, the incision and generally the skill and the expertise of the surgeon, although these can happen with the best surgical technique,” Ashton said, adding that March noted in her Refinery29 article she did not blame her own surgeon.

Ashton recommends that patients ask their doctor the following three questions before undergoing plastic surgery: Are you board-certified in plastic surgery? How many of these operations you do per year? What is your complication rate?

"If you think that having cosmetic surgery is going to change your life, it’s not," Ashton added. "And there’s no such thing as minor surgery. You get a complication, it becomes major real fast."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The deafening crack of thunder or the startling burst of M-80s is enough to turn some dogs into scaredy-cats.

The New York Times reports that, according to some estimates, 40 percent of dogs experience noise anxiety. Animal shelters say that July 5 is the busiest day for taking in runaway dogs.

Dr. Melissa Bain, an associate professor of clinical animal behavior at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine says that noise anxiety for dogs is very serious: “It’s a true panic disorder with a complete flight response.”

The Food and Drug Administration approved a drug to combat canine noise aversion that became available this month. The drug is called Sileo and inhibits norepinephrine, a brain chemical associated with anxiety and fear response.

Sileo is a flavorless gel that is squeezed between a dog’s cheek and gum using a syringe and absorbed in 30 minutes. It's a micro-amount of a drug already approved for minor vet procedures.

Orion, a Finnish company, developed Sileo and tested it on several hundred afflicted dogs during two years of New Year’s fireworks. Three-fourths of the owners rated the dogs’ response as good to excellent. The drug lasts for several hours. A syringe costs about $30 and doses are designated by the weight of the dog. Side effects?  In some dogs, vomiting.

“I’m not naïve enough to think this is the miracle cure,” said Dr. Emily Levine, a veterinary behaviorist in Fairfield, N.J. Yet she thinks it might be a worthy option.

However, most vets say the ideal solution is catching the response early and gently desensitizing the dog with recordings of the offending noises, plus positive conditioning.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The first big holiday weekend of the summer is almost here, meaning lots of us will be headed for the local swimming pool, lake or the beach for some fun.  The American Red Cross is offering these important swimming safety tips for kids and adults:

  •     Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  •     Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  •     Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
  •     Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
  •     Maintain constant supervision.
  •     Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and learn-to-swim courses.
  •     If you have a pool, secure it with appropriate barriers. Many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.
  •     Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
  •     If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  •     Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  •     Know how and when to call 911 or the local emergency number.
  •     Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.
  •     Protect your skin. Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and wear sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15.
  •     Drink plenty of water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them.

For more information, visit the Red Cross website or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Americans overwhelmingly support plans to spend nearly $2 billion to prevent the spread of the Zika virus, but don't feel the issue is urgent. One in three is worried about contracting the virus, one in four is taking steps to avoid exposure –- and most are confident that the federal government can respond effectively to an outbreak.

Seventy-three percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll favor the spending level proposed by the Obama administration, but many fewer, 46 percent, say Congress should approve it immediately; an additional 24 percent think approval should be contingent on budget offsets to be agreed by the Obama administration and Republicans in Congress. Two in 10 surveyed in the poll, produced by Langer Research Associates, oppose the spending.

See PDF with full results here.

A third of Americans are worried that they or someone in their immediate family will contract Zika, which is spread primarily by mosquitoes and can cause serious illness and birth defects. This concern has some influence on funding preferences: Among those who were more worried, 51 percent want immediate funding approval vs. 40 percent among those who were not worried at all.

Views on the Zika Virus

The level of concern about being infected with Zika is somewhat lower than it was for other epidemics tested in previous ABC/Post polls. Worries about Ebola, the H1N1 swine flu, bird flu and the SARS virus peaked at 43, 52, 41 and 38 percent, respectively.

Concern might increase if more Americans become infected, as occurred with swine flu. At the same time, those experiences –- in which feared epidemics did not occur -– may contribute both to diminished worry and to confidence in the government’s response.

As things stand, about one in four adults –- 27 percent -– report taking steps to try to limit their exposure to Zika (rising to 37 percent of those who are personally concerned about infection). Among those taking action, using bug spray is the top volunteered response to what they’re doing, mentioned by half. Just fewer than a quarter say they’re staying indoors or draining standing water, and slightly more than one in 10 are trying to avoid areas with mosquitoes or are making sure that clothing covers their skin.

As percentages of the full population, these are small numbers –- from a high of 13 percent using bug spray to the single digits for all other mentions.

The public’s wait-and-see approach is consistent with confidence in the federal government’s capacity to prevent an outbreak; similar to past infectious disease threats, two-thirds are at least somewhat confident of an effective response, though only two in 10 are highly confident. Just one in 10 are not at all confident in the federal’s government’s ability to contain the disease. Sensibly, those who are not confident in the government are substantially more likely to be taking their own steps to avoid infection.

This relatively high confidence also relates to support for the administration’s spending plan –- 12 points higher among those who are confident in the government. This group also is 8 points more likely to support immediate approval of the funding request.


Confidence in the government’s response varies predictably along political lines, but consistently reaches majorities across key demographic groups. It peaks at more than seven in 10 among those 18-29, college graduates, those in higher-income households, urban residents and Democrats. It’s somewhat lower among others, strong conservatives and rural residents in particular (52 and 56 percent confident, respectively).

Consonant with the possible path of the disease, concern peaks at four in 10 among Gulf Coast state residents, compared with 36 percent of those in Atlantic coast states from South Carolina to New York and 29 percent of those living elsewhere. Gulf Coast residents also are more likely than others to say they’ve taken action to prevent the spread of the disease, though there’s little difference in support for the administration’s plan.

Though women are no more personally worried about Zika than men, they are more likely to have taken precautions, 31 to 23 percent. The lower rate of action by men is driven by men age 18-35, who are also substantially less worried than older men and all women about the disease. Only 14 percent in this group have done anything to prevent contracting Zika, about half the rate of others; they’re also 15 points less likely than their female counterparts to be worried about it personally.

Zika Views by Groups

In other groups, compared with whites, nonwhites are substantially more worried about Zika ( 17 points) and to say they’ve taken preventative action ( 12), as well as slightly more apt to support immediate funding approval ( 8). Democrats are also more worried ( 10) and more supportive of immediate Zika funding ( 23) than are Republicans. Finally, those without a college degree are 16 points more likely to say they’re concerned personally about the disease – but also 10 points less likely than those with a college degree to support swift funding approval.


This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone June 20-23, 2016, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y. See details on the survey’s methodology here.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Owen Suskind’s world came to a halt in 1993. The toddler stopped talking, showing affection and engaging in the world around him.

His parents Ron and Cornelia Suskind took him to a doctor and heard a shattering diagnosis: regressive autism.

“We just froze,” Ron Suskind told Nightline. “The doctor started to explain, ‘OK, this is going to change your life. He may never get his speech back. Many of the kids don’t.’”

Ron Suskind, an award-winning Wall Street Journal reporter, said that around this time his son “started to vanish.”

“He couldn’t look at you,” Ron said. “He walked around like someone with their eyes closed.”

At age 4, Owen’s language became gibberish and his frustration grew, but he found comfort in animated movies. Then one day, there was a breakthrough. Ron said Owen had been watching “The Little Mermaid” and started saying what sounded like, “Jucervus, Jucervus.”

“Cornelia thought he wanted more juice,” Ron Suskind said. “So she gives him the juice. He knocks the cup over."

That's when Ron said they realized he was referring to the movie. "He rewinds it the second time. Then the third time, and Cornelia [says], ‘It’s not juice.’”

Owen was fixated on a pivotal scene in the movie when Ursula the sea witch says to Ariel, “Just your voice.”

“I grab Owen and say, ‘Just your voice!’ and he looks at me for the first time in a year and says, ‘Jucervus,’” Ron said. “Pandemonium broke out in the bedroom.’”

The family discovered Owen had memorized every line from every Disney movie and eventually realized that by speaking dialogue in those characters’ voices, they could communicate with their son. Ron first started talking to his son with an Iago puppet, the parrot from the movie, “Aladdin.”

The Suskinds spent the next several years immersing themselves in Owen’s world. Now 20 years later, Owen and his family are sharing their hard-won journey in a new documentary, “Life, Animated,” the same title of Ron Suskind’s 2014 book about their experience. "Life, Animated" is opening in theaters on Friday.

“We were living a kind of double life,” Ron said. “I'm interviewing presidents, and at night, we're animated characters.”

For Owen, watching those movies made him feel like he was in a better, safe place.

“The world was so noisy coming at him, overwhelming him,” Ron added. “The movies were the one thing that didn’t change.”

Dr. Rebecca Landa has spent 20 years working with children who have autism and said it’s important to pay close attention to what the child is trying to express. She said one of the things that can happen with these animated movies is that children will learn parts of the script.

“They can't put together the words from scratch to express their idea," she said. "So they’re borrowing from the movie."

Beyond the storylines, Owen, now 25 years old, said he feels a kinship with certain animated characters.

“The sidekicks,” he said. “They're so fun-loving and entertaining and also help the heroes fulfill their destiny.”

In fact, Owen compares people in his life to sidekicks from Disney movies. He said he sees his father as Merlin from “The Sword and the Stone” and his mother as Mrs. Potts from “The Beauty and the Beast.” The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC News.

Owen is just one of many with autism who are drawn to animated stories. Colleen Sottilare said her 22-year-old son Jonathan finds great comfort in these movies, especially “Toy Story.”

“His mood changes if it comes on, he’ll just stop and watch it, and calm down,” Sottilare said. “So I think it really has just a really calming influence on him.”

The animation connection has offered Owen a way to make friends. He even started a Disney club at his school, where he said they discuss the films and how they relate to their lives.

“They start to talk and they're speaking the language of Disney to each other,” his father Ron said. “It's like magic.”

Embracing their son’s complex world led Ron and Cornelia Suskind to see the world differently.

“We saw there are many affinities,” Ron said. “The kids who are Harry Potter kids and Star Wars kids -- they use these passions as code breakers to crack the codes of themselves, their place in the world, their identity.”

It’s a lesson for parents of children with autism who worry that their kids are too obsessed with certain subjects, Landa said, and that can be a good thing.

“If you take those interests but you just wiggle a little further away from them, slowly but surely, you can bring in new experiences for children,” she said.

One of those new experiences is real-life interaction with an animated character. On a recent trip to New York City, Owen got to meet Jonathan Freeman, who voiced the evil villain Jafar in the animated movie, “Aladdin,” and now plays the character in the Broadway show version. At the New York premiere of “Life, Animated,” Owen had a sing-a-long with award-winning composer Alan Menken, who wrote many of his favorite Disney movie tunes.

Today, Owen is working and living on his own.

“He changed, but he didn't become less," Ron Suskind said. "We just needed to learn who he was.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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The Gompf Family(TAMPA, Fla.) -- A Florida family has posted a billboard to draw attention to the dangers of the "brain-eating" amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, for people swimming in local lakes, ponds and streams.

The Gompf family posted a billboard in Tampa in honor of their son, Phillip Gompf, who died from meningitis caused by Naegleria fowleri in 2009. It's part of a campaign on water safety the family started in 2014.

"We can't bring back our child. Protect yours, with nose clips," the billboard reads next to a family picture with Phillip missing.

The boy's mother, Dr. Sandra Gompf, said in a video on the family's website that he contracted the infection after he went swimming in a lake. His first symptom was a headache that appeared five days later, the following morning Phillip's parents had difficulty waking him up.

They rushed him to the pediatric ER.

"He was found pretty quickly to have severe meningitis sand three days later he was gone," Gompf said in a video posted on the website to draw attention to the issue.

Both of Phillip's parents are doctors who specialize in serious infections. They are now posting the billboard and starting an online campaign to help protect other children.

"It's 99 percent fatal, but it's 100 percent preventable," Gompf says in a video. "You just need to keep water out of the nose."

There are zero to eight infections in this country from parasitic amoebas each year, and nearly all are fatal, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which advises people to take steps to avoid getting water up their nose in freshwater lakes and streams. Swimmers can keep their head above water, use a nose clip or hold their nose shut when underwater.

"If I could tell you one thing that Phillip would want you to know is to enjoy nature but to remember that natural bodies of water are alive," she said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers are learning more about the Zika virus and how it affects the development of infants in utero -- and what they're learning is painting a grim portrait of the destructive nature of the infection for the fetus.

Two studies published Wednesday in the medical journal The Lancet shed new light on the effects of the virus.

In one study, researchers from multiple institutions, including the Brazilian Ministry of Health, examined children who had been born to mothers with suspected Zika virus infections. The virus has been found to cause microcephaly, a birth defect characterized by an abnormally small head. However, researchers found of the approximately 1,500 births they studied, about 20 percent of the babies born with Zika virus had normal head circumferences. This means these infants may have developmental delays or other defects even though they do not have microcephaly.

The other study published by researchers from multiple institutions, including the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, examined the ways the virus affects brain tissue. They looked at brains of three infants who died after being born with Zika-related microcephaly and also at fetal tissue from two pregnancies that ended in miscarriage related to Zika infection.

By looking at the tissue, researchers found evidence of body deformities, cell death and abnormal calcium deposits in brain tissue related to the viral infection.

The researchers hope to be able to better understand how the virus attacks the developing brain through these studies.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News that the study findings show how much researchers are playing catch-up with this disease.

"I’m afraid the more we learn the nastier the Zika virus is," Schaffner said. "It’s quite evident that the Zika virus, if it gets into a pregnant woman, can get into the placenta and into the baby and it gets right into the brain cells."

Schaffner said other birth defects, including those that affect sight and hearing, often appear if brain development is affected in utero.

"Some of the babies will have blindness and hearing defects," if their brain development is impacted, Schaffner explained. "Some of the babies who appear normal at birth on follow-up can be found tragically later to have limitations of brain function, vision and hearing."

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iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

When you send your child off to college, you expect them to get a good education and life experience -- not the mumps.

The contagious illness is the result of a virus that causes painful swelling of the salivary glands. College students are particularly at risk. The mumps virus is spread through saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat.

Although most people are vaccinated against mumps at a young age, the vaccine does not provide full protection. Two doses of the vaccine are approximately 88 percent effective in preventing mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms of the virus include fever, tiredness, muscle aches and swollen salivary glands. In rare cases, severe complications, including meningitis or inflammation of the ovaries or testicles, can occur.

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Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A 25-year-old teacher lost 115 pounds in one year by relying on Instagram to publicly share her progress.

Laura Micetich said she struggled with her weight since childhood but it was during college that the 6-foot-tall woman’s weight spiraled out of control.

“I had finished college, I was going into my teaching degree [and] I stepped on a scale and I was over 300 pounds,” Micetich told ABC News.

When, at age 23, Micetich developed hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone, she decided to take action.

Micetich changed her diet and began working out, documenting it all on Instagram. She said she lost 40 pounds in the first month alone.

“Instagram gave me this place where I could post my pictures and be accountable to myself but also I was accountable to that 12-year-old who didn't feel good about her body and suddenly could feel good about her body just by an adult telling her everything was okay,” she said.

Micetich’s diet today consists of eggs and oatmeal for breakfast and meals full of protein, such as fresh tuna, and vegetables like oven-baked broccoli. She also works out six days per week.

By sharing her story in pictures and posts on Instagram, Micetich became an inspiration to not just herself but her followers too.

“People were going to my pictures and saying, ‘How did you do this?’ and ‘Can you give me information?’” she said. “And I'd say, ‘Yeah shoot me an email,’ and I'd send them as much information as I could.”

Micetich’s message to others is that hard work pays off.

“It's about proving to yourself that you want that change enough to wait for it and work for it and when it gets there, then you appreciate it,” she said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — They might be pretty to look at, but the handheld fireworks known as sparklers people love on the 4th of July can be dangerous.

The Chicago Tribune reports that sparklers accounted for more than 12 percent of fireworks injuries from June 23 to July 20, 2015, based on information from the Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal's Division of Fire Prevention.

Of the 7,000 fireworks-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms, sparklers accounted for an estimated 19 percent from June 20 to July 20, 2014.  But those numbers skyrocket when it comes to kids: the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission statistics for children under five, sparklers accounted for 61 percent of the total estimated injuries.

MaryLynn Jacobs, vice president of operations at ATI Physical Therapy, said people are naïve about the dangers of sparklers, which burn at around 2,000 degrees -- that's hot enough to melt some metals.

Jacobs doesn't recommend having fireworks at home for safety reasons. "Being a mother of three, I would just ask [people] please to watch from afar. Let's go to a fireworks display.”

Jacobs says large bubble wands and pinwheels that aren’t fireworks are good substitutes for children.

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